Shopping? Check out our latest product comparisons

Vibrating glove could direct users to items within stores

By

October 10, 2012

It looks nothing like the NES Power Glove, but we can dream, right? (shelf: Shutterstock)

It looks nothing like the NES Power Glove, but we can dream, right? (shelf: Shutterstock)

Image Gallery (2 images)

These days, we do our hunting and gathering in supermarkets and department stores. While this is much easier than the challenge faced by our ancestors, it is not without its difficulties. Tracking down that one specific item on our list can prove frustrating when faced with aisle after aisle filled with shelf upon shelf of products. Researchers are eying the use of gloves to make the task a lot simpler but, unlike high tech wearable computing devices like Google's Project Glass, these conceptual gloves use a simpler formula: they emit vibrations to tell you where to go.

The gloves designed by researchers at the Helsinki Institute of Information Technology (HIIT) and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics would be made of relatively cheap off-the-shelf components. These include four "vibrotactile actuators," a Kinect sensor, and an ordinary glove. The motors would vibrate to guide your hand in a manner similar to the children's game Hotter/Colder.

Already tested

Warmer, warmer ... (hand: Shutterstock, Snickers: sudeep1106 | Flickr)
Warmer, warmer ... (hand: Shutterstock, Snickers: sudeep1106 | Flickr)

This guiding glove isn't a formless idea: it's already been created and tested. A controlled experiment found that subjects who wore the gloves had a big advantage in finding an object. "In search tasks where there were hundreds of candidates but only one correct target," explained Dr. Antti Oulasvirta from Max Planck Institute for Informatics, "users wearing the glove were consistently faster, with up to three times faster performance than without the glove."

It's unknown where the target data would come from, but one can easily imagine such a glove syncing with a smartphone. Simply open the Target (or whatever store you're in) app, search for the product, and let your Bluetooth-connected glove lead the way. The researchers say the technology could also be used to direct motorists to their vehicle in parking lots, hunt down books in libraries or find items in large warehouses.

Source: Helsinki Institute of Information Technology

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
3 Comments

A similar idea was layed out in one of Isaac Asimovs robots novels but using a heating metal thing which guides you to your aim. I think this could give enough material for prior art.

Fattyman
11th October, 2012 @ 05:27 am PDT

So the unknown target data (meaning possibly RFID tagged items) of that certain item but more likely the exposed bar code as in shown in the photo. Does this magically scan from afar? How does a simple candy bar emit data to locate its exact location??

Maybe your not clear what you want? Ie; cough drops certain brand, flavor, format, size, cost?

I would first have to decide…..Yup that took two milliseconds.. cheapest orange flavored drops

Then program my smart phone app with all the relevant information… sorry app slow to load, then mistyped do to coughing attack… 15 minutes later message reads…………..item not found.

Ok, let’s try more general…..ok that seemed to worked….waiting for download….(stupid slow 3G).

Now to unpack my NES Power Glove, put it on, wait need to put the phone down, since it takes both hands to strap on.

Ok done that, syncing Bluetooth…….waiting……………….WHAT NO VIBRATIONS!!!

Fumbling to check the battery, drops phone……glad to have the old shock proof cover on, still COUGHING madly!!!

Battery is ok, could it be that this store doesn’t carry that brand, or maybe out of stock? Or they have not restocked?

Walking back to the front of the store while tearing of my “Power Glove” I see out of the corner of my eye a package of orange cough drops on sale right by the cash in those “Impulse Buy “ racks just below the “snickers” Damn those plastic foil wrappers blocking the target data…...

Really, people please get a life, lay off the iStuff, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Wait that’s it idon’t need the “Power Glove” at all…the yourphone with it’s built in homing device will vibrate in my hand, and blink once target is purchased, then I can COUGH…COUGH…. consume some more, right after the phone pays for it,…Tweeeep *%# NOOOO wait I didn’t want to buy the whole rack……

Bob Flint
11th October, 2012 @ 08:45 pm PDT

Why??? This is simply another reason/method to remove human contact from everyday activities. How many times have you been in a store, looking for something specific, and a store employee helps you to find something better or more suitable? I'm by no means a technophobe (wouldn't be reading this blog if I were), but the increasing disconnection from human contact/interaction and total reliance on technology troubles me. The only useful application I can see for this in a warehousing application, using HUMAN workers, in an effort to speed up and simplify the picking process.

Remember how much dischord there was when automation started replacing human factory workers? Many of those ex-factory workers are now in retail...

erock5000
14th October, 2012 @ 09:11 am PDT
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 28,293 articles